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FF: Ordinary Girl in an Extraordinary Affair Flashbacks are in green and italics.

Chapter -5 So NK is going to wait in the wings while you pamper yourself here, with all that eeky stuff on your face and get pedicure-manicure? Khushi asked her childhood friend Mallika in an outraged voice, Where is your sense of fairness? The guy has travelled thousands of miles and wishes to talk to you for a couple of minutes before the mehandi function. What is wrong with that? Mallika looked at her friend with exasperation. Her face pack was surely going to crack if she spoke another word trying to explain to Khushi why she couldnt meet NK before the engagement tomorrow. She had tried to explain it to her that her astrologer considered it not the right time for her to meet him but would Khushi listen? She gestured to Khushi to wait for a minute while the pedi-mani ladies finished their job and asked the professional facial expert to remove her face mask. Once that was done, she calmly turned towards Khushi and said, Babe, Ive tried to explain it to you again and again but you wont listen to me. Punditji said it is not the right time for me to meet him. IF I do something bad may happen. I am not willing to take that risk Khushi. Try and understand this please and make him do so too. You know he listens to you! Hmmph.. I hate all this astrological nonsense. Whats the point of keeping two people who love each other apart, even if it for a couple of hours? Khushi grumbled and then sighed. She would have to accede to her friends wishes. Mallika believed in such nonsense and it was her engagement, her life. Fine, Ill tell the poor guy, he must wait until tomorrow although I dislike it. Hes my friend too you know. Mallika laughed, Yeah, and your admirer too my love. He was half in love with you when he met me and had it not been for us matching so well and falling in love with each other, he may have waited for you all his life. According to him, youre an innocent angel who has come down to Earth and can do no wrong and no matter how hard I try to tell him that is not the case; youre a nutcase, he wont listen to me. The smile that had found its place on Khushis face got wiped off immediately. Dont! I am very fond of NK and I wouldnt wish for you to talk about him like that. Hes my friend and whats more hes like a brother to me. Mallika squeezed Khushis shoulder and came up to hug her, I know darling. I know. Hes so good at heart and so kind.. I sometimes think I have dreamed him up. Khushi brightened at this, Nope. Hes real and hes here for you. Youll be engaged tomorrow and then soon married and then... ! Mallika blushed and swatted Khushi gently, chal hat.. pagal! Now if only we could find another like NK that you would fall in love with.

Khushi moved away from Mallika so as to hide her face full of anguish, You could give me 100 such NKs and I still wouldnt be the right girl for him. Until I dont have your cheerful and kind disposition, I cant have such a man as NK. What kind of man would you like then? Asked Mallika, coming to stand next to her friend, perplexed by her tone. Did you already find one and not tell me about him? Did you Khushi? Whats to tell? Not all stories are bestowed with happy endings and we must reconcile with this fact of life. Khushi said and then brushed the unhappy thoughts off her mind. She couldnt break down ever! She smiled and said We are not going to talk about me now Mallika. We are simply going to focus on you. And my watch tells me if we dont go back home soon, were going to be reprimanded big time before the Mehandi function! Khushi, are you- youre not happy. I know that. Wont you tell me what happened? Im your best friend. Mallika put a hand on Khushis shoulder, turning Khushi towards to face her. Khushi smiled and said, Youre my best friend, yes. And theres nothing to tell. I mistook a devil incarnate for my Prince Charming and my heart got bruised, is all. Trust me, Im fine! and saying this, she moved away from her childhood friend again and said, Look, its time we left. Forget all this and lets just go. I want us to have loads of fun today.

Back at Gupta Residence, Mrs Gupta was talking to Payal, I knew he would sooner or later come forward to claim her attention but I didnt think hed act upon it so soon. He wishes to see her today, at Mallikas mehandi function? Payal had spoken to her grandmother about the phone call last evening and her conversation with Arnav. Payal sighed, Arnav ji is not a very patient man grandma, especially where Khushi is concerned. The day she left Delhi without telling anyone of her whereabouts was the day I shudder to think about. Ive never seen a man so furious grandma, ever! For some days I thought, Arnavji was going to throttle Khushi if he found her. He stayed in that murderous rage for many days and then his black moods took over the entire household. Everyone, even Dadiji was so scared to talk to him lest he went into one of his anger fits and walked out of the house again. He worked himself to the ground, and would snap everyones heads off at the merest mention of something that reminded him of Khushi. He left for London soon and after a few weeks, came back and then went away again. He was like a man on mission. Akash said hed heard him making some enquiries about

Khushi but Akash also didnt dare ask his Bhai what was going on. He wouldnt speak to anyone about Khushi, especially not to Mum and Dad. The last time he was in Delhi and had gone away again in a day, he looked like he had been stabbed to death. We had tried finding out what the matter was but he just left. Akash thought maybe it had something to do with a big deal that had gone sour. But then, Anjali di called after a few days, demanding to know what had happened. She said shed never seen Arnavji like this in her lifetime, not even when their mother had run away with their fathers friend and their father committed suicide with heartbreak. He was devastated by something he had found out, she said. Mrs Gupta looked sad, Such a tragedy that two people who are too alike in nature have met and perhaps fallen for each other. I know there is a strong bond between Khushi and him though neither would admit it openly. I could feel that when we met him yesterday. At my age, one knows these things. I wish Khushi would confide in someone! She keeps everything to herself more than ever now, cries in the night and simply looks lost at times. Yesterday when I met Arnav, I felt the same emotions running high in him as I feel in Khushi. Hes determined to talk to her and if that day is today, so be it! Well take it as it comes. Khushi must face him and get it over with if thats what is going to happen. She cant move on until they both have unfinished business with each other. Children today Mrs Gupta looked as if she was Atlas on whose shoulders lay the burden of this world for a moment. Then she straightened her shoulders and said, Lets go Payal. Were getting late for Mallikas mehandi function.

At Mallikas house, the party had begun. Guests had arrived from all corners of the world. Big wigs, executives from various companies that Mallikas father had dealings with had come in to attend the engagement party. One could also see local politicians mingling around. Arnav was talking to one such local politician but his eyes kept on roaming around in the house, looking for that particular girl who had brought him here -Khushi. He heard laughter from the other part of the house and knew the mehandi function had started and the womenfolk of the family were having fun while they waited for the intended bride and her friends to return from the spa. While he was actively searching for Khushi, he didnt intend to come in contact with her until the time was right. He will not meet her today- oh no. He only wished to look at her, take in his fill of her today while she enjoyed herself. The journey to claiming her as his will begin tomorrow. He heard the commotion at the end of the party hall and knew she must have arrived. Only his Khushi could make such a din and encourage others to do it too. A slight smile

touched his lips as he imagined her face. She would be laughing and teasing her friend, dancing her hands around and talking animatedly with her eyes. Thinking about how her eyes could talk took him back to the day after they had been introduced and he had messed up her mind. Khushi had been walking around in the garden with Akash and another friend of hers when he saw her again the next day. He had just come back from work- a hectic day that had been filled with meetings with politicians and bureaucrats not to mention some other smart ass businessmen who had a carrot stuck up their- never mind that! He was tired to the bone and wished to get out of his dark blue suit that he had worn all day long. A long hot shower and some comfortable clothes was what he craved. Added bonus would be hot dinner and a book to read in peace. Unwittingly his eyes strayed towards the trio walking in the garden, his eyes staying glued on Khushi. She wore a cream coloured sweater with and her feet were stuffed into shoes. She had a focused, concentrated look on her face and she was listening to whatever Akashs friend was saying very intently, her glorious hair open and blowing in the wind. At one point, it looked as if she would argue but she kept quiet and looked as if she was mulling things over in her mind. She had a frown on her forehead and she kept on biting her lower lip as if forcing herself to stop speaking out her thoughts. He felt a tremor run through his body when he looked at her pale pink lips, especially the bottom lip that she was worrying. He wished to go there and put his mark on those lips. A hunger was taking hold of his senses; hunger to taste those lips. Hastily he snapped out of those thoughts. He didnt need this complication in his life. For heavens sake man, youve just met the girl and you didnt even like her so much! He told himself. He already had a girl who was willing to share his bed and be at his beck and call back home in London. Women were meant for pleasure and not to be trusted. What fascination could such a girl as this Khushi Kumari Gupta hold for a big tycoon like himself? He delivered this lecture to himself and walked off. Once he had showered, he got into a horizontally striped sweater and put on his Gucci loafers. They were quite comfortable to walk around in, in his room. Smiling, he dialled the number to his Di in London. He came and stood by the window in his room talking on his Bluetooth with his Di. The window overlooked the garden. Khushi, Akash and the other unnamed friend were still walking in the garden and Khushi was saying something, the expression on her face earnest. She seemed to be pressing her point home as her companions looked dazed by her and kept on nodding. And then she smiled. Arnav found he couldnt take his eyes off her face, he could barely respond to his Di. Her smile had him captured. He hung up, promising his Di to call later while his eyes never strayed from Khushis face. Her smile held all the joy of the world,

as if she had found a treasure. She whooped with joy, laughing and clapping her hands, making those two dumb fools standing next to her grin while an unwilling smile graced Arnavs face slowly. She looked really pretty when she smiled. While the two guys started talking to each other, turning their backs on Khushi as she searched for something in her book, Arnav found himself mesmerized by her. She stood directly under the lamp light, scribbling something in her book, the tip of her tongue caught between her lips that were still curved in a smile. Arnav felt his body stir and loins tighten as he saw her; her face glowing and her tongue coming out to be caught between her lips. What the hell was wrong with him! How could he be so affected by this chit of a girl! He was about to turn away from the window when he felt her gaze on him. As if Khushi felt his gaze, she suddenly looked up from her book and straight at him. The smile on her face disappeared abruptly. She looked at him; confused as if asking him why he stood there looking at her as he stared back, his desire in plain view for her to see, not knowing if she understood how at this moment he wanted to touch her, taste her. A slow flush started on her face going down to her neck. She looked away and up again. Unspoken questions were asked by her with those beautiful eyes, questions to which he had no answers. She looked down as if feeling awkward and quickly walked to the other two guys. Something was discussed and she smiled at them. Turning away, she moved towards the exit of the house gate. Just before she turned out of the gate, she looked back and up at him. He was still standing at the window, looking at her. They shared one last gaze and she left. Someone cackled next to him and he came back to his surroundings. Outwardly calm, he felt his heart thud loudly. He knew she was in the hall.. she had come. Only in her presence did his heart beat so fast, so loud that he felt the entire room would hear it. His Khushi may be out of spirits when alone, as her grandmother had informed him yesterday, but she also possessed fighting spirit- like he did. She would never let anyone know what she felt. She was so much like him in such aspects. That had been his undoing. If only she spoken to him and told him the truth- he shook his head to clear the fog of despair- no matter. It will all be solved soon- once he caught up with her. He looked on as she came into view.

Chapter-6 Khushi was not sure what it was that made her heart beat faster or make her feel dizzy but as soon as she entered Negi House; Mallika's home, she could feel both these sensations. Now why on earth would she feel anything of the sort in her best friend's

house? She had been coming and going here since she'd been young. Why would it arouse such sensations today. The only one who could- Khushi gasped loudly making Mallika turn around worriedly, What's wrong? Did we forget something? No-nothing, nothing at all. Khushi tried to sound cheerful but her breath hitched in her throat. She ridiculed the thought. Nonsense, she was definitely going to have to do something about this paranoia that had her it its grips. First at the bazaar and now here.. get out of it Khushi! She firmly scolded herself. Once they went into Mallika's room and changed into Mehandi clothes, Khushi relaxed mentally but physically she was still on the lookout. Her instincts, every now and then whispered his presence to her. But how could that be possible? Khushi had changed into a beige coloured dress that had pink borders. She looked pretty and docile in it. Mallika being the centre of attention wore a dark green lehanga with red zardosi work done in it. Do you have your lenses Khushi and you guys, are your dresses for the sangeet ready? Mallika asked Khushi and her other friends who were changing as well. Khushi looked around and saw all of them nodding. She groaned. She didn't want to wear lenses. Can I not dance with my glasses on Mallika? Absolutely not! You promised you will leave your stubbornness aside and do as I say on Sangeet evening! Mallika pouted and Khushi hastened to assure her that she would, despite her reluctance. Khushi wore the lenses since it would be difficult to do so after the mehandi was on her hands. It had been quite a while since she'd worn lenses. She felt a little uncomfortable with her glasses gone, as if a part of her happy girl faade had been taken away. They went into the ladies room where Sangeet and mehandi ceremonies will take place. Payal was already sitting next to grandmother, getting mehandi on her hand done. Khushi remembered how NK and Mallika had met as she sat down beside Mallika while two girls started applying mehandi on Mallika's hands. NK's side of the family had already arrived, with his Mom and Dad smiling at every one. NK himself was sulking and had thus decided to stay back in the hotel. Khushi knew her friend well. He would not be able to stay away for long from Mallika, never had been able to since they met. Khushi had befriended NK while studying for her MBA and NK had come to Nainital with her one summer holiday. That is when Mallika and NK had hit it off and even after NK had left, they had kept in touch. Two months back, NK had come down and gone on one knee, in the presence of several hundred candles to propose Mallika. Khushi

remembered the joy on their faces when they had declared their love for each other and their commitment to each other. If only she could find that one man who would love her as much! Khushi's face drooped at the thought while a girl took hold of her hand and stared applying mehandi on it. Absent mindedly, Khushi looked at her mehandi and sighed. She couldn't deny it that she did meet the man who was capable of deep love, onlywhat was love without trust? Angry at herself that she had thought of him again, she tried to focus on what was being discussed around her. They were all talking about the function that would take place after Mehandi. Khushi, which song are you and the girls planning to perform on? Asked NK's mother. Khushi liked her a lot. She was kind and gentle and by no means, lacking in sense of humour. Mummyji, it's a song from the movie Chandni. It's called main sasuraal nahi jaaungi ( I will not go to the in-laws house) said Mallika, looking at Khushi. Khushi smiled back, dragging her mind away from dark thoughts. It was Mallika's special evening and she was damned if she'd let it be ruined. A sparkle lit her eye, as she replied, Yes, Auntiji, I know it's a song for wedding sangeet but we found it was appropriate at this time to tease you guys. Marriage may be a bit too heavy with us all busy meeting Mallika's demands. Mallika nudged her with her elbow and outraged face while NK's mother laughed. sounds like fun to me. I look forward to watching it. Is Mallika performing as well? Khushi chuckled, She doesn't want to give the wrong impression by doing it herself so we're going to do it on her behalf. Mallika blushed and other women around laughed. Khushi looked around for her grandmother who seem to be missing and asked Payal, where's grandma? Payal tried to speak with an air of carelessness but was not sure if she was able to pull it off, Oh she must have gone to the other room to meet others. There are so many people of her acquaintance, she keeps on flitting around. It seemed as if Khushi had accepted her explanation because she nodded and focused on what was being drawn on her hands by the mehandi girl. Do you want a letter written in it? Asked the mehandi girl to Khushi. NO. Khushi replied firmly, not giving herself any chance to feel sorry for herself. She had no business thinking about Arnav at this time.

Soon the mehandi session was over and older ladies brought in dholak and tambourine. They started singing old folk songs meant for weddings and engagements. Normally both the bride and groom parties teased each other with these songs. Khushi's song may be filmy but it was of similar nature too. Men had been allowed back into the room now. NK's mother was dancing with Mallika's father and the other relatives had also started dancing with each other. At Mallika's quiet whisper, all girls moved away into the other room to dress for their performance. Payal accompanied all the girls to help them dress and make-up since she was quite a good hand at it. Khushi came out wearing a green Lehenga with pink dupatta that was tied from one shoulder to the other side of her waist. The other girls were similarly attired too in the colour of their choice. Giggling and laughing with the other girls, Khushi came out into the room and stood beside Mallika. It was time. By the time, the older ladies finished their song and sat down tired but happy, the girls had taken their positions. And then began the dance. Khushi danced gracefully, lip singing the song and giving out perfect, naughty expressions. The song was all about teasing NK's family- his mother, his father, his sister, his brother-in-law. It talked about how each one of them comes to take her to the in-laws' abode and how she'd make excuse not to go with them. The song came to its climax, to the part that spoke about the last message coming from the beloved. Khushi had decided to drag Mallika into the song for this verse since NK had shown up in the middle of the song and was sitting beside his mother, cheering her. As Khushi moved with the music to drag Mallika and NK into the song, the verse began, paanchwa sandesa mere piyaji ka aaya, koi bahana na phir yaad aaya... (the fifth message came from beloved and I couldn't remember any excuse...) Mallika and NK looked at each other; their gazes shy and loving and spiritedly played their part on the verse while Khushi went into the background with the other girls. The song was almost done and it said, nange paanv main daudii chalii jaauungii maike vaapas main lautakar na aauungii sainyaa jii se lipat main jaauungii huun suunii sej sajariyaa sajaauungii ban ke bistar main haay bichh jaauungii main sasuraal nahiin ...(I will run to him barefoot, I will not come back to my mother's house, I will hug my beloved and decorate his life, I will become his bed by laying down

for him) Mallika blushed furiously and stumbled on the last line but NK held onto her hand. When the song was over, Khushi jumped and cheered loudly along with others, hugging them each in turn; her sadness, her worries, her heartaches forgotten. Here was one couple who was so much in love, so committed to each other, it brought tears into Khushi's eyes. She moved away while the pair basked the glory of praise from everyone. She wanted to move away for a bit and keep to herself for a few minutes. Going out in the garden will surely help. Thinking this, she moved without thinking and bumped into someone. Arnav had watched Khushi dance from distance. He grit his teeth when he looked at other guys watching Khushi with lust and admiration. He wanted to tear their eyes out, so angry was he. He admitted to himself feeling jealous, knowing he didn't want anyone else looking at his Khushi that way. While she had danced, he could feel his body stirring with desire, his heart turning over in his body, jumping with joy at seeing her again, happily dancing. She was simply beautiful! Her eyes conveyed all kinds of thoughts through their expressions, her hair that had been tied in a braid with a silver thread, her poise, her tiny waist and the tantalising belly button that could be seen when she lifted her hands to dance, her smile; sometimes naughty, sometime mischievous, sometimes downright sinful. Her mouth when she touched her tongue to her lips, as was her habit when she was worried or concentrating hard. He ached to touch her mouth, to taste it again. He wanted to hold her in his arms again, her body moulding to his and feel her melting into them. He had planned to watch her from a distance and make his move the next day. But one glance at all those guys who seemed to be leering at Khushi, waiting for the dance to be over so that they could ask Khushi out changed his decision. Earlier Khushi's grandmother had told him that Khushi had been tensed since yesterday and asked him if he could perhaps postpone his plans. He had assured her that he would be careful while talking to Khushi and only if Khushi was willing will he take his plans further. Of course, there was no way he was going to stop until he claimed her, he knew that but he didn't think her grandmother needed to know that at this time. He had come with a purpose and he would not leave until his heart was with him again-his Khushi. He would try to be gentle. He would need to control his temper and stay calm. He had never had trouble before when it came to being calm and controlled; only with Khushi did he lose it completely. Khushi had enough power to ignite his temper, had sometime deliberately provoked him even! As to her grandmother telling him, she had been behaving weirdly

since yesterday, he knew why. Of course she would! Her heart recognized his heart beating in close proximity to her. No matter how much they fought and declared they hated each other, their hearts still beat as one. Arnav moved ahead and he saw Khushi trying to get out of the room while a couple of guys moved forward to talk to her. To hell with everything, he had to get there before anyone else! Oops! Sorry, I- The sentence was left unsaid as she stared at the face of one man she had dreaded to see again, she had ached to see again. Arnav! So we meet again, Miss Khushi Kumari Gupta. Khushi went through a brain freeze at this point. Her mind boggled, hardly making any sense as questions emerged in her head. She must certainly be hallucinating! How could he be here? How would he know she was here? How did he know the Negi's? While a part of her mind juggled with the questions and their comprehension, a part of her registered that he had lost weight. His jaw looked more defined than ever, his bright amber eyes intense than ever and glittering with emotions that rocked her world once. He was wearing Brioni; the sickeningly expensive, custom tailored suit as usual, giving him his I'm the boss look that had turned many a girl to mush in Khushi's opinion. His hair had been cut short to look make him look hot and sexy and he had evening stubble. Her body heated up and danced its own tune while her mind was still trying to come to grips with his presence. While she was still trying to formulate questions and come up with plausible explanations, Arnav pulled her hand and dragged her outside, away from all eyes. He walked briskly down the steps and into the garden. Surely a figment of your imagination couldn't do that! His touch had seared her arm. It was real enough, hot enough just like when Arnav used to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless. Sit. We need to talk Khushi. He growled huskily as his eyes devoured her, while he sat by her side, still holding her hand. Khushi looked up into his face, her chicken brain still computing the fact that he was here. At his words though, she jerked away from him and gasped; the spell broken. Her breath hitched in her throat. He was here for real and not her imagination! Breathtakingly handsome as ever, Arnav was dangerous when he looked at her like this. Her palms started sweating as heat pooled inside her stomach and lower, heart beating like the flutter of a caged bird. How could he look so mouth-watering and how could she still feel like this after everything that had happened? How could she still ache for his arms around her!?

What are you doing here Mr. Raizada ? And why have you come? Have you not done enough, not said enough? saying this, Khushi tried to get up. I said sit down and lemme finish! I am not done talking with you yet! He caught her hand in his again and growled between his teeth, barely holding on to his temper. I'm not someone you can order around, get it? Let go of my wrist dammit! I am not going to sit around and listen to whatever vile accusations you want to throw at me! Let me go or I'll scream! Well then, you might as well scream because I'm not going to let you go. Arnav held her hand in tight grip, his eyes chips of ice. He took a deep breath. He was here to woo her, not frighten her. He had to calm down! Look Khushi, I will let your hand go but we really need to talk. Let my hand go and we'll talk. said Khushi. The moment he let her hand go, she ran from his side, shouting, To hell with you Arnav Singh Raizada. She didn't run far though. He caught her by the waist just when she reached the beginning of the steps. You really need to learn manners Khushi. Arnav growled and before she could so much as retaliate, he picked her up like she was a sack of potatoes on his shoulder and dragged her back deeper into the garden, surrounded by trees. She was breathing heavily, struggling and trying to free herself unsuccessfully. Let me go damn you! I'm not your property! How dare you pick me up like this, how dare you touch me! Let me go this instant! Khushi pummelled him with blows on his back. Not that they seem to be affecting him at all. He put her down and pulled her into his body, his hands quickly holding hers as she tried to hit him. Calm down you wild cat! You'll injure yourself and me both if you keep on doing this. I don't care! Let me go you beast. Oh! In one moment, Arnav arms twisted her arms behind her back, forcing Khushi into his body. Khushi struggled even more, tears forming in her eyes. She would not cry, she would not! She couldn't let him see she was weak. You're hurting my arms dammit! Let me go! Khushi wailed as finally tears fell down her cheeks. Let me go Arnav. Please! I can't take this anymore!

Khushi sobbed silently while Arnav looked at her, his rage fading all of a sudden. He let her go and moved away from her while she sobbed in her hands, quietly. Why have you come Arnav? What more needs to be said? Khushi. Arnav felt his voice grow hoarse. Hell, he could never see her crying and this was worse! He had come here to make up and he'd already shouted on her, forced her, hurt her and now she was crying again. He ran his hand through his hair, dishevelling it. Dammit woman! I just wanted to talk to you. If you'd simply hear me out, I'd not have to force you like this. As if he couldn't bear to hear her sobbing any more, as if he couldn't bear to stand away any more, he close the distance between them and removed her hands from her face, turning it into his chest. Khushi. While Khushi sobbed on his suit, Arnav breathed in the scent of her hair. Green apples and cinnamon. Her hair always smelled the same, fresh and lively. He pulled her deeper into him, his hand going around her waist, another going through her hair. Khushi His voice was a mere croak accompanied with a groan. For God's sake, have mercy on me. Stop crying. I hate it when you do that. She could hear his heart beating as she lay her head on his chest and cried, beating hands against him and mumbling, I hate you, hate you.Suddenly she stilled as his hands moved from her hair onto her back, caressing her. Was she mad? Why was she letting him hold her! She pushed herself away from him, her tears on her cheeks, her eyes blazing, You have a hell of a nerve Mr Raizada. You are the sole reason for my tears and my miseries and yet you- Please, just go away. I do not wish to speak to you. Arnav didn't touch her this time. She had kind of hoped he would stop her as she started walking away but he only said, Khushi stop. Khushi stopped walked but didn't turn back. He continued, I know the truth and I know you were innocent. I know now all about how Shyam lured you into that room and tried to molest you. Khushi turned around quickly, her eyes shocked and surprised. Arnav continued, his voice filled with guilt I found out the truth recently when Shyam was drunk at a party and boasting how he had you in his claws then, how you struggled, how I didn't believe you and how he got one up on me. Khushi shuddered and closed her eyes as the memory surfaced of how close she had come to being raped, by her own cousin too! Had Arnav not interrupted on time, she'd have been raped and killed by that obsessed creep. Another shudder racked her body

as Khushi tried to control her panicked breathing. Deep breaths. It didn't matter anymore. She opened them to look at Arnav; her eyes a tale of anguish and then down, So you know now. Yet you didn't believe me then. Arnav looked as if someone had put a spear through his heart. Oh her eyes! How much had she suffered and he had compounded it all! His eyes tried to show her how sorry he was, how he suffered and lived with his guilt since the last so many months but she didn't look at his face. He turned away from her and spoke quietly, I can only tell you that justice has been served. He is in jail now since he had also embezzled funds from my company. Even when he serves his sentence and comes out, he will not be entertained in any decent society. His eyes searched her face desperately for some sign of forgiveness, some sign of her mellowing down now that the culprit had been caught and given his due punishment, Khushi, I know I didn't believe you at the time since I had seen the proof with my own eyes, proving otherwise. You must realize how it looked at the time. Khushi looked at him, her hurt and despair plain in her eyes, Yes, I do now. You believed that that creep cousin of mine who was your friend and employee rather than the woman you were engaged to; me- the woman who kept on telling you that she was not in the room by her wish but had been forced. You believed only what you saw, not in me. You proved everyone right; those who kept on telling me I was a fool to get involved with you, that I was nave to believe you were engaged to me and wanted to marry me because you cared for me even if you couldn't love me- that you had no heart, no conscience, you were ruthless. You couldn't care, you couldn't love. You proved them right and you proved silly naive me wrong. But I learnt my lesson. I know now Mr. Raizada. It hurt horribly at the time; your distrust, your betrayal but I'm alright now. I am over the hurt and am over you Mr Raizada. You needn't worry, you needn't lose your sleep over it. I know you are not in the habit of apologizing no matter how big your crime may be. I don't expect you to apologise just as I know I will not forgive you. Khushi, I am sorry. The words slipped out of Arnav's mouth before Khushi could move. She looked shocked, only stared at him when he repeated again, I'm really really sorry. I should have believed you. Forgive me and come back to me Khushi. I- A giant wave of rage enveloped her as she realized what he had just said. Forgive you Arnav Singh Raizada? For what? For being your-pompous-ass-I-am-always-right-self? I don't think so! You and I can never be together again. This talk is over and I have nothing more to say to you.

Khushi, stop! Arnav's command fell on deaf ears as Khushi kept on walking. Tears had begun again. He wanted her, oh yes he did.. but only to assuage his own guilt, only to make himself feel better. Well, he could rot in hell for all she cared. His next words scared her as did the determination in his voice. Fine. We'll talk another time. I'm not going to go away Khushi so you might as well face it. I'm here to get you back in my life and you will come to me again. I am not letting you go Khushi. I am staying here at Negi house as their guest since they have invited me to the engagement party. Khushi looked back and stared at him for a moment. She whispered so softly that he almost missed her words as he spoke to herself, So you're not here just for me. I knew it. She walked away, wiping her tears with her dupatta while Arnav stood looking at her departing dear back. A part of him was rejoicing. He had seen the proof in her eyes. Her despair told its own story. She still loved him! However,... he sighed. She was not going make this easy for him. He knew he'd have to crawl before he would be able to win her back. A determined glint came in his eyes. Fine. Let it begin. He was ready to grovel, he was ready to crawl- in his own style.